Tag Archives: Eastern California Museum

The Slim Princess Locomotive Party Was a Big Hit

About 200 people came out to celebrate the return of the Slim Princess Locomotive #18 to the Eastern California Museum in Independence.

Visitors from throughout the region and all across Inyo County enjoyed the day-long Welcome Home Party for #18 on Nov. 2. The day started early when the all-volunteer crew from the non-profit Carson and Colorado Railway fired up historic, narrow gauge steam engine. Dozens of people watched the start-up process and enjoyed photographing the handsome locomotive as it traveled up and down the short stretch of track on the Museum grounds. A steady stream of train enthusiasts, including plenty of families, then got an “up close and personal” view of how the vintage, 1911 steam locomotive operates by taking a “cab ride.” The volunteer train engineers and brakemen explained the complex controls and answered questions during the rides

Carson and Colorado President Dave Mull was also on hand to answer questions about the nearly 20 year effort to get the locomotive running after its career with the Southern Pacific Railway traveling from Laws to Keeler. In the 1950s the engine was retired and donated to Inyo County and placed in Dehy Park in Independence before being brought back to life by the CCRW group.

The Slim Princess recently came back to its Independence home after a nearly year-long “visit” with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Randy Babcock, the Chief Mechanical Officer of the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Vice President of the CCCRW, presented a slide show and talk on the engine’s time in Durango. Babcock also signed copies of his recently completed book, “SP Narrow Gauge 18 Steams Anew.” The book relates SP #18 was taken apart and then put her back together with clear, concise writing and more than 100 photos and maps.

The Friends of the Eastern California Museum sponsored a silent auction featuring dozens of books and other merchandise related to the history of the Eastern Sierra. The Friends also hosted the afternoon tri-tip dinner on the Museum grounds, with Dugan Whistler’s mouth-watering tri-tip beef and beans. Students from the Owens Valley School helped serve the meal, and the crowd was entertained by the Black and White String Band, featuring local musicians Nina Weisman on mandolin and Howie Schwartz on guitar, playing bluegrass and “old time music.”

The Slim Princess is “home” in the Larry Peckham Engine House at the Eastern California Museum,  at 155 N. Grant St., just three blocks west of the Historic Inyo County Courthouse in Independence. For more information call 760-878-0258. For more about the Carson & Colorado Railway group, see carsoncolorado.com.

Eastern California Museum Event

Friends of the Eastern California Museum

submitted by the Friends of the Eastern California Museum
March 1, 2016

The Friends of the Eastern California Museum invites everyone to join them for their annual meeting and potluck dinner on Saturday March 12 at the American Legion Hall in Independence.

The Friends are a non-profit organization, which supports the Eastern California Museum in Independence, which is also the Inyo County Museum, with volunteer labor and financial resources, to help keep the Museum a viable and important part in preserving our area’s history and culture.

The evening will also feature a presentation by Dr. Kimberly Kirner from California State University, Northridge. Dr. Kirner has been the lead researcher for the “Coping with Change” research project in the Eastern Sierra and will explain the project and demonstrates how Inyo residents can participate through a simple on-line map.

In addition, the Friends will be conducting their popular silent auction. This year, the auction will feature a number of great items including a six night stay in a condo in Mammoth, 2 nights with golf at Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley, a 2 night stay with dinner in Shoshone, and dozens other great items for you to bid on as well.
The Friends annual dinner and meeting will start at 5:30pm at the American Legion Hall in Independence-the corner of Kearsarge and Hwy 395… There will also be a social hour at the Eastern California Museum-135 N Grant St in Independence from 4:30 to 5:30. That’s Saturday March 12th, the Friends of the Eastern California Museum annual meeting, potluck dinner and silent auction. Everyone’s invited. For more information, contact David at (760) 920-8061.

Eastern California Museum, Independence California Museum, Inyo County Museum

ECM hosting Local Author Book Signing

David Woodruff book signing

submitted by the Eastern California Museum
February 15, 2016

On Sunday February 21st, The Eastern California Museum in Independence will be hosting a book singing event with author and local Owens Valley resident David Woodruff’ for his new history book by Arcadia Publishing-Furnace Creek Resort. Woodruff lived and worked at Furnace Creek Resort for over 17 years, pursuing his lifelong interest in exploring Death Valley and researching its fascinating history. He has compiled historical photographs and documents made available by Rio Tinto Minerals (formerly the Borax Company), along with the National Park Service in Death Valley, to tell the story of Furnace Creek Resort.

Furnace Creek Resort is actually two different hotel properties in Death Valley, Furnace Creek Inn and Furnace Creek Ranch. Since the opening of the Inn in 1927, with just 12 guest rooms, Furnace Creek Resort has achieved preeminence among US National Park lodges and hotels. Conceived by the Pacific Coast Borax Company in 1926, the inn was the answer to the declining mining industry, which had left the Death Valley Railroad with nothing to haul. The construction of Furnace Creek Inn helped to shift Death Valley’s draw from mining to tourism, bringing a new industry to the Old West. Steeped in history and tradition, the inn and the ranch have become as much a destination as the park itself. With naturally heated swimming pools, the world’s lowest golf course, four-diamond hospitality, and surroundings of unsurpassed natural beauty, Furnace Creek offers experiences that are long remembered by its guests.

The book-signing event will be held on Sunday February 21st at the Eastern California Museum from 1pm to 3pm. In addition to the book signing, Woodruff will have on display some of his personal collection of rare Death Valley ephemera, photos and memorabilia. For more information you can call 760 878-0258.

Eastern California Museum, Furnace Creek Arcadia Publishing, Furnace Creek Resort

IOU players present “Death Valley Scotty”

Death Valley National Park Hosts Death Valley Scotty Radio Play Fundraiser

 Death Valley, CA–The Metabolic Studio IOU Radio Players will be performing Death Valley Scotty live at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley National Park, on January 30, 2016 at 6 p.m. The live performance is a benefit fundraiser, with proceeds from the sale of $20 tickets going to ongoing work to restore the grounds and outbuildings at Scotty’s Castle after massive flash floods swept through the historic district last fall.

All are invited to watch and listen in to this radio drama, which features local actors, musicians and sound effects artists bringing to life the extraordinary life and times of Walter Scott, better known as the legendary, Death Valley Scotty.

Death Valley Scotty was a prospector, a performer in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, a raconteur, conman, husband and father. He was introduced to Death Valley when he worked as a swamper on the famous 20-mule teams that pulled huge wagons of borax out of the park. In 1885 he met Albert Johnson, an insurance executive from Chicago who was recovering from an accident that nearly killed him. Scotty helped him to recover in Death Valley and cemented a secretive, life-long partnership which included the construction of Scotty’s Castle, an elaborate Spanish style mansion in a remote desert valley, now part of Death Valley National Park.

In 1905 Scotty beat the cross-country speed record on a train from L.A. to Chicago, which garnered headlines across the nations, Free with his stories about secret gold mines and surviving ambushes and other adventures in the extreme and exotic setting of Death Valley, Scotty also was an extravagant spender, peeling off hundred and thousand dollar bills from his impressive bankroll. His outlandish stories and lavish spending habits quickly helped make Scotty one of the West’s most prominent, larger-than-life legends whose exploits appeared in news outlets across the country.

The Death Valley Scotty radio drama was written in 1931 and originally airing in 1955 as part of the Death Valley Days series. The Pacific Coast Borax Company sponsored the radio series, starting in 1930, and also paid the author, Ruth Woodman, to write all the radio plays. The company used the radio drama to publicize its tourist-related holdings in Death Valley. Woodman was the lead writer for Death Valley Days for more than a decade. In 1952, she adopted many of the radio plays for the Death Valley Days television series, which was famously hosted by a Ronald Reagan.   

Metabolic Studio IOU Theatre is a troupe of performers, including actors, musicians, sound effects artists, from the Owens Valley of California. The group has been performing radio plays relevant to the region since 2014 in the historic Double L bar in Lone Pine. They are taking their show on the road to support efforts to repair damage to Scotty’s Castle caused by the unprecedented flash flooding in October 2015.

 The group would like to thank Rio Tinto, the successor to Pacific Coast Borax, for providing the material for this program. The live radio show will be recorded and broadcast on the internet at IOURADIO.org at a later date. For more information about Metabolic Studio, please visit http://www.metabolicstudio.org/.

 Tickets are $20 per person, cash only, at the door. To reserve a seat and pay by phone, call 1-800-478-8564 ext. 10. All proceeds will be donated to the Scotty’s Castle Historic Preservation Fund.

The event is sponsored by the Death Valley Natural History Association (DVNHA), a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the natural and cultural resources of the Death Valley region. DVNHA has been an official partner with Death Valley National Park since 1954.

DV Scotty and Albert Johnson
In the living room at Scotty’s Castle are businessman Albert Johnson, right, his wife, left, and Death Valley Scotty. The two men formed an unlikely and very interesting partnership that resulted in the construction of the Castle, and Scotty’s well-publicized exploits in Death Valley. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum.
death valley scotty, death valley fundraiser, scotty’s castle flood relief, iou players, eastern california museum

Eastern California Museum highlights Manzanar

Thursday Evening Program places focus on Manzanar

The Friends of the Eastern California Museum will continue their community outreach program with a great evening program presented this Thursday September 24th by Alisa Lynch. Lynch is a ranger with the National Park Service and is Chief of Interpretation at Manzanar National Historic Site, located just south of Independence on Hwy 395.

The program will highlight a few of the ten thousand stories of ten thousand lives at Manzanar during World War II. Those attending the program will learn about how the National Park Service uses personal stories to connect 80,000 visitors to the site each year. The illustrated program will be followed by a question an answer period.

The free program will be presented in Independence at the Historic Winnedumah Hotel at 7:00pm on Thursday September 24th.
The “Friends” are a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of the Eastern California Museum and its programs and to aid in increasing the Eastern California Museum’s value as a public educational facility with an emphasis on heritage.

For more information on this great program you can call David at 760 920-8061.

Cover photo provided by the Eastern California Museum

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Cerro Gordo trip

Friends of the Eastern California Museum Cerro Gordo tour

UPDATE (8/26/15)  event postponed.

The Friends of the Eastern California Museum (FECM) is pleased to announce another exciting upcoming program. On Saturday, August 29th, the Friends will be offering a field trip to the silver mining camp of Cerro Gordo. The trip will include a guided tour by the town’s caretaker. High clearance vehicles are suggested though the road has recently been put in good shape by the Inyo County road department and is passable to most passenger cars with drivers experienced in dirt road-mountain driving.

The trip is limited to 30 people and the cost is $20 for FECM members and $25 for non-members. People wishing to take the trip must sign up in advance and may do so by calling the Museum at (760) 878-0258. Attendees will meet at the Eastern California Museum in Independence at 9:00 a.m. on the 29th. Ride sharing is strongly recommended and people should also take plenty of water and a lunch.

The mission of the Friends is to support the Eastern California Museum and its program and to raise awareness of the museum to Eastern California residents and visitors.

Cover Photo provided by the Friends of the Eastern California Museum

eastern california museum, cerro gordo, independence california, inyo county

More History this weekend

Eastern California Museum looking at “Tourism in Death Valley”

The Eastern California Museum is pleased to announce their community outreach program for residents and visitors alike continues this week with another evening program at the historic Winnedumah Hotel in Independence this Friday, August 21st.
This weeks 45 minute interpretive program will be “The History and Development of Tourism in Death Valley”. This program takes an in-depth look at all of Death Valley’s hotels from the Furnace Creek Resort to Wildrose Station.

Death Valley is America’s largest National Park outside of Alaska. Its resorts and hotel have long played an important financial and socioeconomic role in tourism dependent Inyo County. The people behind these hotels were visionaries and risk takers of the highest levels. The history of their dreams and determination makes for an incredible one of a kind story. Come hear how some dreams grew beyond their wildest expectations while others joined the ranks of other Death Valley disappointments. The program will be held just off the lobby of the historic Winnedumah and will begin at 7:00 p.m.
This event is free and provided with support from the non-profit Friends of the Eastern California Museum. Additional events are planned for the following weeks and on through September. Upcoming events will include an interpretive tour of Manzanar Historic Site, a program and slide show by noted Owens Valley rock art scholar Courtney Smith and a tour of the mining town of Cerro Gordo, road conditions permitting. Several additional events are planned as well.
For more information you can contact the Museum at ecmuseum@inyocouny.us or call (760) 878-0258.

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History Fun this weekend

A History filled weekend starts Friday at the Winnedumah Hotel

The Eastern California Museum is pleased to announce a community outreach program for residents and visitors alike, through a series of interpretive talks, guided tours and educational programs beginning Friday, August 14.

The Museum will kick off their exciting program with a history talk at the historic and newly re-opened Winnedumah Hotel in Independence on Friday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. The 45 minute program is titled “Into the Jaws of Hell” and is the true and spell binding story of how Inyo County’s Death Valley got its name. It is a story of bravery and determination taken to their highest level. The program will be held just off the lobby of the Winnedumah and will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Winnedumah Hotel (2)
Winnedumah Hotel. Photo provided by the Friends of the Eastern California Museum

On Saturday morning at 8 a.m., everyone is invited to meet at Dehy Park, located on the north end of Independence to join David Woodruff on a one hour walking tour of Independence’s Historic District. Independence features several prominent and historical buildings that have played an important role in the development and history of the small town as well as Inyo County. The interpretive walk takes about an hour and covers about three quarters of a mile. There is plenty of parking at Dehy Park.

Then on Sunday August 16 at 2:00 p.m., author, scholar and basket weaver Justin Farmer will be conducting an afternoon of shared traditions and stories. Farmer is a knowledgeable and practiced basket maker and has conducted extensive research into cradle-boards and cradle baskets of California and Western Great Basin’s Native American cultures. The program will be at the Eastern California Museum located at 135 N. Grant Street in Independence, just three blocks west of the Inyo County Courthouse.

All of these listed events are free and provided with support from the non-profit Friends of the Eastern California Museum. Additional events are planned for the following weeks and on through September. Upcoming events will include an interpretive tour of Manzanar Historic Site, a program and slide show by noted Owens Valley rock art scholar Courtney Smith and a tour of the mining town of Cerro Gordo, road conditions permitting. Several additional events are planned as well.

For more information you can contact the Museum at ecmuseum@inyocouny.us or call (760) 878-0258.

cover photo provided by the friends of the Eastern California Museum, “49ers leaving Death valley”.

independence california, eastern california museum, Winnedumah Hotel, death valley 49ers

Norman Clyde Birthday Bash

Schedule set for Norman Clyde Birthday Bash

Bluegrass music, free food and cake, a “Pack With Legs” fun walk, vintage climbing exhibits, and guest speakers will all be part of the second annual Norman Clyde Birthday Bash, scheduled for Saturday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to whenever the band stops playing, at the Eastern California Museum in Independence.
The event honors pioneering mountaineer Norman Clyde, who recorded 100 first ascents in the Sierra in the 1920s and 1930s, and was a fixture in the Sierra Club’s High Trips, which introduced hundreds of people to the High Sierra. Clyde lived in Independence and Big Pine when he was not roaming the Sierra for weeks at a time, carrying his legendary 80-pound pack. Clyde would have been 130 years old this year.
The day will start at 11 a.m. with an informal Pack With Legs fun walk, open to everyone. Participants are encouraged to carry a pack for the moderate walk along Independence Creek and through town. Those carrying the heaviest packs will be rewarded with a prize, and everyone will get a replica “Norma Clyde Campaign Hat.”
Local bluegrass band Idle Hands will start entertaining around noon, and free hot dogs and beans will be available, with birthday cake for dessert. Beverages, beer and wine will also be provided. Donations will be appreciated.
Starting at 2 p.m. several speakers will recall The Life of Clyde. Giving brief talks will be Andy Selters, Phil Pister and Wynne Benti. Dennis Kruska.
There will be displays of vintage climbing gear by SP Parker, Howie Schwartz and Neil Satterfield, in addition to the Museum’s Permanent Exhibit featuring Clyde and his exploits.
Memorial Norman Clyde t-shirts will be on sale.
The Eastern California Museum is located at 151 N. Grant St. in Independence. For more information, call 760-878-0258, or check the Museum’s Facebook page or www.inyocounty.us/ecmuseum.

Cover Photo: Norman Clyde with his trademark campaign hat, ice axe, pistol and back-breaking pack. Photo courtesy the Eastern California Museum.

norman clyde, eastern california museum, eastern sierra news

Owens Valley Petroglyphs

FECM Annual Meeting Spotlights Owens Valley Petroglyphs

 The annual meeting of the Friends of the Eastern California Museum features an exploration of ancient mysteries and a chance to indulge in some high-class modern amenities.

The public is invited to the Friends Annual Meeting, which will take place on Saturday, March 14. The event will begin with a reception at the Eastern California Museum (155 N. Grant Street in Independence) at 4 p.m. with light refreshments. At 5:30 p.m. the action shifts to the historic American Legion Hall for a community potluck. There is no charge for the event, but a potluck dish would be appreciated. There will be a brief business meeting to install new officers for the non-profit Friends of the Eastern California Museum for 2015.

Next comes the Silent Auction. People can bid on a wide range of merchandise and services donated by local businesses. Besides books and sporting goods and other local bargains, among some of the more interesting items up for grabs are a stay, including golf, at the Historic Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park, and a week’s stay at a condo in Mammoth. The Silent Action proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Museum.

The evening’s presentation features independent rock art researcher David Lee, of Bishop, who will speak about his work over the past 20 years documenting and studying the Owen’s Valley’s extensive examples of ancient rock art.

The Owens Valley is home to a spectacular concentration of Native American Petroglyphs and Picto-graphs, and this art can provide clues to the thoughts and beliefs of the region’s earlier inhabitants. Lee and his colleagues have spent two decades documenting these images in the Owens Valley, the Great Basin, and throughout the American west and Australia. Their findings refute numerous earlier hypotheses, and show that rather than being monolithic expressions of hunters or healers, rock art produced by forager societies such as those in the Owens Valley can be seen as playing an important role in the lives of everyone in the group, and in linking that group to specific places. 

Lee is a rock art researcher, focusing on the function and context of rock art in the Owens Valley, Death Valley, the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert. He has documented rock art in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Australia, and has co-authored several papers on the rock art found in the Mojave Desert and Eastern California. He is a founding member of the non-profit organization, Western Rock Art Research, located in Bishop and dedicated to the study and management of rock art.

For more information about any aspect of the Friends of the Eastern California Museum’ Annual Meeting, call 760-878-0364, or visit, www.fecm.org.


eastern california museum, eastern sierra news, owens valley petroglyphs

Author of “Regarding Mono Lake” at Eastern California Museum

ECM Hosts Local Author Elizabeth Kenneday, “Regarding Mono Lake”

Mono Lake is more than photogenic tufa towers.

Regarding Mono Lake
“Regarding Mono Lake”

Although the famed tufa towers are, in most people’s minds, the lake’s trademark, a closer look reveals a landscape dotted with equally intriguing sights and views that draw attention to the region’s rich history and the people who played an integral role in shaping that history.

From Paiute basket makers to loggers and ranchers to environmentalists, the Mono Lake region has attracted an interesting cast of characters. And many of those characters left an indelible artistic mark on the region. Prehistoric Paiute rock art, drawings cut into trees by Basque sheepherders and even a rather creepy Clint Eastwood movie have all made a contribution to the cultural and artistic legacy of the lake.

Local author Elizabeth Kenneday’s new book, “Regarding Mono Lake: Novelty and Delight at an Inland Sea,” documents and explains that human and artistic history, while also showcasing the colorful, unique landscapes that have made Mono Lake an unforgettable natural attraction. Illustrating the book are 56 of Kenneday’s stunning panoramic photos, most of which highlight lesser-known features of the lake.

Kenneday’s photos are both informative and striking. The photos frame ancient tree stumps and abandoned ranches and buildings in a modern context. An abandoned Lime Kiln, a useless boat dock and marina, abandoned mine sites, and the famed Mono Mills lumber site, document the lasting footprint of man’s industrial efforts on the lake. The same is true of the photos of the decrepit “Spa Cottages” on Paoha Island, an empty water tank and a decayed wooden boat.

The lake’s artistic history ranges from Pauite petroglyphs to the eclectic “found art” of the Bottle Place to the making of Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter,” with is surreal Lago town site on the banks of the lake.

Of course, the famed tufa and picture-postcard sunsets and sunrises also are captured by Kenneday’s camera.

Kenneday will make a presentation and sign copies of her book, “Regarding Mono Lake: Novelty and Delight at an Inland Sea,” at the Eastern California Museum on Saturday Sept. 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. The museum is located at 155 N. Grant St. in Independence, call 760-878-0258 for more information.

Kenneday is well-suited to the task of explaining and exploring Mono Lake’s cultural story.

She was one of  idealistic activists who worked for the Mono Lake Committee while it battled the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power over the utility’s stream diversions that, by the 1980s, had resulted in an alarming drop in the level of the lake. That monumental environmental struggle succeeded in saving the lake. In 2004, she moved back to the Eastern Sierra and began “photographing Mono Lake again in earnest.” Kenneday currently splits her time between Reno and June Lake. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Photography and a Ph.D. in Art Educational Theory. She is the emerita professor of Art at California University in Long Beach, and has been awarded a Traditional Fulbright Scholar Fellowship

“This eerie, yet exquisitely beautiful lake has inspired writers, movie producers, artists and photographers, and musicians … the lake and its basin have been the site of Native American activity, a gold rush, agricultural and ranching endeavors, an oil boom, other commercial activities, and tourism,” she writes. “I became ever more intrigued the ways the area had been perceived, interpreted, utilized, exploited and cherished by others who have encountered it. Mono Lake of the twenty first century bears the imprint of all these human activities – some visible, some less so.”

ECM Hosts Local Author Elizabeth Kenneday, “Regarding Mono Lake”


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